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Webster County Fair 4-H, FFA canceled

Webster County’s Iowa State University Extension office canceled the 4-H and FFA portions of the 2020 Webster County Fair Monday evening after staff were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

The Extension office was notified Monday that a person who was in the office last week had tested positive. The cancelation comes just two days before activities were scheduled to commence.

“It didn’t seem responsible on our part to go against what Public Health was telling us, that we needed to have staff self-quarantine,” said Jerry Chizek, regional director.

While he said that Extension feels the pain of youth and families who have invested countless hours and resources into projects, he said they know they made the right decision, based on the information they had, for the safety of everyone.

A surge of COVID-19 cases in Webster County over the last five days has demonstrated the novel virus’ strengthening grip in the area. Caseloads in surrounding counties continue to climb, as well.

“It’s been a difficult year on so many levels with activities postponed,” he said. “This is just one more casualty of the year.”

Chizek said the disappointment was a “brand new” experience for staff, as the cancelation of one of the most iconic and visible parts of the county fair tradition was something that had never happened before with a running fair.

“We have not faced a decision of this magnitude before,” Chizek said.

A substitution or make-up event for youth will likely not happen due to the difficulty of coordinating schedules, he said.

“It’s definitely been difficult,” for the youth, said Lindsay Kavanaugh, Webster County youth coordinator.

She estimated about 200 youth were participating in this year’s fair.

The office will be closed to the public through Tuesday, July 14.

“The Webster County Fair is a summer highlight for many of our 4-H and FFA members and their families. Youth have worked all year with their projects to be able to showcase their fair exhibits,” Chizek said. “The health and safety of everyone involved is our top priority.”

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